SANTA CLARA -- After the firing of Houston Texans coach David Culley and Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, only one Black head coach remains - the Pittsburgh Steelers' Mike Tomlin.
Just a few days after Kyle Shanahan was asked about the head coaching qualities DeMeco Ryans possesses, the 49ers defensive coordinator still is hopeful that the diversity in NFL coaching ranks will grow.
“I think as this new cycle comes around, I think multiple guys will get opportunities,” Ryans said. “We'll hope to see some change there and see many other African American coaches get that gig, get the head coaching job and be in a position to lead these young men.”
Shanahan, in fact, made a point to praise Ryan's progress and potential earlier this week, saying that now, like New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh, his defensive coordinator will get a top job one day.
"I've seen head coach qualities out of DeMeco when he was a player," Shanahan said. "When he was a quality control [coach], when he was a linebacker coach and now when he is a coordinator. So he's always had those qualities, it's just about him getting the reps and getting the experience. It’s a matter of time with him."
Instead of focusing on the negative, the former NFL linebacker shared that as he looks to further his career, he sees Tomlin as a role model. The 14-year head coach has an incredible record of 154-85-2 with the Steelers.
“Mike Tomlin is definitely a guy I look up to as a coach,” Ryans said. “You talk about just the consistency that he's had over the years, not to have a losing season, always in the playoffs. He is definitely a coach that I look up to and I want to mimic, to be able to be in that position. I want to mimic a coach like Mike Tomlin with the success that he's had.”
With approximately 70 percent of NFL players identifying themselves as Black or of mixed heritage, the number of minority head coaches in the league is alarmingly disproportionate, even prior to the recent firings. Ryans, who has the support of his head coach and players, will be a candidate in the near future.
“Kyle has been great,” Ryans said. “He’s been very helpful throughout my first year as a coordinator. when you're talking about having one of the best offensive minds in the history of the game, to have him on my side, I see it as an advantage.
“He is fun to work with and I wouldn't want to work with anyone else, man. He's an awesome head coach and love the work that he's done here.”
If Ryans continues to excel, hopefully he gets the opportunity to indeed attempt to mimic Tomlin's success.